A mangled fortress twists up and wildy into a threatening sky. The lower half is a dirty shade of gray and concrete with a dingy blue border and a red stripe around the top. Above, various levels jut out like thorns, platforms made from wood and other materials slathered together haphazardly reach up beyond the sky line. Some are illuminated by torch light, with others disappearing into the depth of night.
Jak’s never been here before, but it’s all too familiar sight. A sickening feeling overwhelms him. How could it have come to this he says to himself.
In the distance, two pudgy, misshapen figures lumber towards Jak as silhouettes against a collapsing sun. They approach with loud, squishy footsteps and hefty breaths.
"What is this?" the little fat one says with snot bubbling from his nose. His blue vest clings to his grayish green skin, its saturated in sweat and on the back, a yellow smiley face is stretched a ghoulish grin.
"Let me see," snarls the older looking one. The optical' he wears is fused to his eye socket, wrapped in a protective layer of fat and infected tissue. He waddles when he walks and the weight in front of him swings like a pendulum.
"You there?" he growls. Jak lifts his head. The old one roars and hisses, "What? It can’t be!" He vaults backwards, bouncing like a rubber ball on the pavement.
Jak is quickly dragged across the empty parking lot. They reach the entryway and two older looking, blue vested fatties guard the doors. They see Jak, gasp and step aside.
Inside, the stench assaults Jak’s senses and he begins to choke and spit.
"Quiet down," the little fat one says.
The interior is otherwise empty and hollow, except for trash and debris. At the center, a massive staircase rises up through the ceiling. As they begin their ascent, more blue vest meet them along the way, some run, others cower at the sight of Jak. They climb and climb, until finally the rickety structure changes to one made of gold, more gold than Jak has ever seen. It trickles down, flowing under his every step like slow moving lava. As they climb further, piles and piles of gold create various rooms of different sizes. The stairway narrows and they enter an enormous chamber. A golden hen sits squawking in one corner, in the other, a harp is playing itself a wondrous tune. The ground began to shake and the coins jump in unison.
“Fee, fi, fo, fum,” a thunderous voice echoes through the chamber and the little fat one begins to tremble. A grotesque likeness enters the chamber, his body is deformed and writhe with pieces of gold embed into his skin, swollen and surrounded by bright yellow pus.
“I thought that might bring back memories for you. Good to see you again or shall I say myself, Jak.”
Jak looks up at the giant, the resemblance is uncanny, undeniable. A monster.
“What have you done?”
“What have I done, what we’ve done you mean. I’ve given us everything. We are happy ever after.”
“You have taken everything away from everyone in the process.”
“Say’s the thief. That giant we bested might think the same of you. Have you come to best me?”
The giant Jak roars with laughter. The golden harp ceases it’s song.
“You’ve forgotten one thing. Your axe. How is mother by the way?"
"She's dying." Jak yells.
"Oh yes, that's right. Pity."
"The gold is poison. Look at you. Look at what you've become."
"Yes, look at me. I am a giant of all things."
“I went to see the butcher again," Jak says.
“How is our old friend?”
“He gave me more beans.”
“More beans, we have no need for beans, we have no need for climbing.”
Jak removes the beans from his pocket, “These aren’t for climbing,”
He tosses the beans high into the air and they scatter all throughout the chamber.
“they’re for re-claiming.” Instantly they split apart and small vines begin to wiggle their way across the floor, growing bigger and bigger, burying themselves into the gold. The chamber floor begins to rip and shake violently apart. Giant Jak is knocked off balance and comes crashing down, narrowly missing Jak.
Jak grabs hold and wraps himself tight around a vine just as an avalanche of coins gives way. Above him he can see the whole thing collapsing. The nights sky is breaking through and gold rains down like shooting stars. The vines reach the lower platforms, engulfing them and crushing them into tiny splinters. The little fat one hangs from a nearby vine while other fatties fall to their deaths, popping like grapes on the pavement. Large green stalks slam into the foundation, rooting and plowing through concrete. They quickly envelop the strongholds walls, bringing them down in one single, cohesive grip.
Jak loses his grasp and falls, bouncing off several vines before meeting a soft landing on the fat little ones limp body. Jak struggles to get up, his foot tangled in the grip of a vine.
Above him, the giant plummets, his enormous size and weight snapping and pummeling crisp stalks as he descends.
"This is a one way trip for you Jak," the butchers voice echoes in his.
Jak closes his eyes and thinks of his mother as the giant crashes down.
Jak awakes to the warmth of the sun on his cheek. He shakes off his sleepiness and sits up. Quickly he jumps to his feet and runs home.
He burst through the door and his mother sits at the table peeling potatoes.
"Jak, what has gotten into you?"
"Nothing mother, just happy to see you."
She gives him a warm smile and continues peeling. Jak puts his hands in his pockets and pulls out a handful of gold coins. They shimmer and shine. Jak smiles.